2016 February 26—Folklore and History: An Interdisciplinary Conversation with Neil V. Rosenberg

folklore & history: an interdisciplinary conversation with Neil V. Rosenberg for faculty and graduate students @ nicholas d. chabraja center for historical studies, northwestern university, 26 february 2016, 10 am — noon.


Folklore and History Neil Rosenberg Seminar (pdf)

Folklore and History: An Interdisciplinary Conversation For Faculty and Graduate Students

With Special Guest Neil V. Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus, Department of Folkore, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Friday, 26 February 2016, 10 am—noon

Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, Lower Level, Harris Hall

  • Neil V. Rosenberg, “A Folklorist’s Exploration of the Revival Metaphor,” in The Oxford Handbook of Music Revival, eds. Caroline Bithell and Juniper Hill (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 92-113.
  • Neil V. Rosenberg, “Bibliography,” Bluegrass: A History (University of Illinois Press, 2005), 377-79.
  • Charles Joyner, “A Model for the Analysis of Folklore Performance in Historical Context” and “Folklore and Social Transformation: Historians and Folklorists in the Modern World,” in Shared Traditions: Southern History and Folk Culture (University of Illinois Press, 1999), 254-272.
  • Lawrence Levine, “The Folklore of Industrial Society: Popular Culture and Its Audiences.” With responses from Robin D. G. Kelley, “Notes on Deconstructing ‘The Folk'”; Natalie Zemon Davis, “Toward Mixtures and Margins”; T. J. Jackson Lears, “Making Fun of Popular Culture”; Lawrence W. Levine, “Levine Responds,” American Historical Review 97 (December 1992): 1369-1430. “Levine Responds,” American Historical Review 97 (December 1992), 1427-30.

Light refreshments, coffee, tea served. RSVP for readings, Michael Kramer, History and American Studies, mjk@northwestern.edu.


A native of the western United States, Neal V. Rosenberg grew up in Berkeley, California, during the 1950s before receiving a BA in History from Oberlin College and an MA and PhD in Folklore from Indiana University. He is now Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Memorial University, where he taught from September 1968 until his retirement in September 2004.

Rosenberg specialized in the study of contemporary folk music traditions, investigating the ways in which popular music interacts with local and regional folk music traditions, and examining processes of cultural revival. A performing musician since childhood, Rosenberg utilized his skills and experiences in bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, classical and experimental music to gain a closer understanding of the processes he studied.

He conducted research in Canada and the United States, focusing upon the lives and music of professional, semi-professional and amateur old-time, bluegrass, country and folk musicians. His books include Bluegrass: A History (1985), the definitive work on that form of music, which was reprinted with a new preface for its 20th Anniversary Edition in 2005. Other books include Transforming Tradition (1993), a collection of studies on North American folk music revivals; Bluegrass Odyssey: A Documentary in Pictures and Words (2001) co-authored with photographer Carl Fleischhauer of the Library of Congress; and The Music of Bill Monroe (2007), co-authored with Charles K. Wolfe. He has published over seventy-five articles and review essays. In 1981 he originated the column “Thirty Years Ago This Month” in Bluegrass Unlimited, and wrote it until 1993.

Formerly Recorded Sound Reviews Editor of the Journal of American Folklore, he has edited and written notes for many recordings, including a contribution to the brochure for the Smithsonian/Folkways reissue of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music for which he won a 1997 Grammy Award. His notes for Compass’s Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Best Liner Notes” award in 2014.

Rosenberg is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, recipient of the Marius Barbeau Medal for lifetime achievement from the Folklore Studies Association of Canada, and a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

In 2004, Rosenberg’s friends and colleagues from the worlds of folklore studies and bluegrass music honored him with a collection of their essays and articles in the book Bean Blossom to Bannerman: Odyssey of a Folklorist. Edited by Martin Lovelace, Peter Narváez and Diane Tye, this MUN Folklore and Language Publication includes a brief biography of Rosenberg and a full bibliography of his writings.

Support for Neil V. Rosenberg’s visit to Northwestern provided by The Alumnae of Northwestern University Academic Enrichment Fund; The Simeon E. Leland Forum, which was was established by members of the University community in grateful recognition of Simeon E. Leland’s outstanding contribution to the University’s cultural life while he was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1946 to 1966; Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies; History Department; Performance Studies Department; and the Northwestern University Library.

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